If I Dona Wear a Seatbelt, Can I Still Make An Insurance Claim?

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by | Jan 4, 2016 | Auto Accidents

After a car accident, you never intend to file a lawsuit. Instead, you try to recuperate from your injuries, cope with the time off work, etc. Eventually the bills will start to pile up and you will wonder what your options are for recovering your losses. After all, you were not the one that caused the car accident. While someone else caused the accident, you do know that you did not wear a seatbelt in the accident – which made your injuries worse. So, you may be wondering if your failure to wear a seatbelt could thwart your attempts to collect compensation.

Cases like this are not straightforward and can complicate things during a lawsuit. Because you have some negligence in the case, Missouri’s comparative fault laws will take over.

What is Comparative Fault?

Also referred to as comparative negligence, this special area of the law is what differentiates straight negligence cases from those where the plaintiff may have been partially at fault for their own injuries.

In comparative negligence, the standards of negligence will still apply, including:

  1. The defendant owed you a duty of care – such as refraining from speeding and causing an accident or not texting while driving.
  2. The defendant ignored that duty or failed to provide that duty – such as choosing to drive drunk instead of sober.
  3. The defendant’s breach of duty caused your injury.
  4. The defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) were the cause of your injury – meaning you must tie the defendant’s actions to your actual injury.
  5. Prove that you suffered injuries and damages. This can include medical costs, lost wages, etc.

Comparative fault is used when the plaintiff is partially to blame for their own injuries. For example, you were rear-ended in an accident and you were not wearing a seat belt. Because you were not wearing the seat belt, your face struck the dashboard. You suffered other injuries as well, but this injury was the result of your failure to wear the safety device – and not necessarily the fault of the other driver. In this case, comparative negligence applies.

For example, if it is determined that a plaintiff was 10% responsible for the accident that caused his or her injuries, under Missouri law, that plaintiff could collect 90% of their damages. In the circumstance where the plaintiff is 60% responsible for the accident that caused his or her injuries, the plaintiff could still collect 40% of their damages.      

Speak with a Kansas City Car Accident Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you were injured in a car accident and you are concerned that you contributed to your injuries, do not assume you cannot collect. Instead, contact an attorney at Horn Law. Schedule your consultation with an attorney now by calling 816-795-7500 or fill out an online contact form.